“I have an idea to test this.” “Something is wrong here. We need to test it.” “How can we test this so nothing goes wrong?”

I hear statements like this a lot when people come to me wanting to test something. Often it turns out that the problem and the solution are different from what my colleague thinks it is. My goal, as my team’s lead, is to solve the problem in the most efficient way possible. My team is small and the requests for our time are numerous. I’m always trying to find ways to solve testing problems without building automation projects.

Here’s how I do that.

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Leadership is the ability to help a group of people advance from the place they are today as much as they are willing and able to grow.

The first thing you need to know about my approach to leadership is a little context.

Here are some crucial bits to apply to what I’m about to tell you:

  1. I have been working in technology in many ways, but mostly as a software engineer or software engineering manager for over 20 years
  2. I have a degree in education. I wanted to be a teacher since middle school after watching, and being inspired by, great teachers
  3. Despite having a degree in elementary education, I decided not to teach because of how curriculum and evaluation was carried out at a mass scale in US public education
  4. I was in college studying elementary education when No Child Left Behind, a test-focused education platform, was unveiled. I fought against its existence
  5. My ethos is personal development. I care, first and foremost, about growth. Of myself and of those around me. I like to make people better

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Implicit bias is the bias you didn’t know you have. It’s:

  • the engineer you thought didn’t have social skills
  • the woman you thought was a designer
  • the man of color walking toward you at dusk who you deem a threat
  • the kid who looked so young you treated them like they didn’t understand what was going on around them

It’s this stereotyping that humans used to judge danger in far less certain times. It was, and can still be, a useful tool to assess situations quickly. In times where there is no danger, thought, implicit bias can cause trouble for you and those around you.

We all have biases like this. No matter how hard you try, they will always be in your head. The only way to fight is to understand your own biases and assumptions and work to counteract them.

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A bug is anything that would make a user think less of your product. It’s the simple. You can split hairs from there, but that’s the baseline. In this post, we’ll talk about what a bug is and how you should approach finding and reporting them.

Types of Bugs

If we define a bug as anything that detracts from your product, that doesn’t mean we can leave it at that. These bugs can be categorized in many ways, but the most logical to me, is to consider what type of defect it is and how exactly it fails a user. I’m always looking for ways to expand my empathy for the users I expect to use my product, and this type of categorization helps.

With that in mind, these are the ways I sort out bugs.


Functionality bugs fail a user because we’re violating the stated goals of our product.

This is the baseline for bugs for an average tester. Any one who tests software should be ready to ask questions about requirements and be ready the moment a new feature is available to test with both standard and tricky use cases.

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No. That’s silly and unattainable.

How about you take a sensible approach to writing unit tests?

  • Ask questions about what you should be testing. Code that is:
    • Prone to break
    • Changes a lot
    • In a high traffic part of the app
  • Look at things like mutation testing, like Stryker
  • Remember that test coverage isn’t a number to reach, but one metric in a game of testing effectively

Quality is something we talk about all the time. We want our work to be good, to make money, to help others, to be awesome and admired. The word quality comes up, especially while planning our work. In the end, we say we don’t test enough, we have to do hotfixes, the app breaks in ways we didn’t imagine.

The dictionary says that quality, in this context, is:

degree of excellence, superiority of kind

Obviously, a quality product goes way beyond just software. We apply similar standards to every item we use, every piece of art or music we consume, and even the people around us. Quality is something we all know when we see it but find it hard to explicitly define. As it relates to software directly, it:

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